Liverpool Under-23 boss Critchley takes over at Blackpool
Written by Simon Austin — March 2, 2020
LIVERPOOL Under-23 coach Neil Critchley has been appointed as Head Coach of League One Blackpool on a contract to the end of the 2022/23 season.
Critchley, 41, has worked for Liverpool for six-and-a-half years and was promoted from U18 to U23 boss in September 2017.
This season, he took charge of the first team for the Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat by Aston Villa in December, and the FA Cup fourth-round replay against Shrewsbury last month, which the Reds won 1-0.
Critchley, who was Academy Manager at hometown club Crewe from 2007 to 2013, said: “I am absolutely delighted to join Blackpool. The trust and faith that has been shown in me from (owner) Simon (Sadler) and (chief executive) Ben (Mansford) gives me a very special feeling inside.
“I can’t wait to get started. I’m really looking forward to the weeks and months ahead, meeting the players, working on the grass, developing the team and meeting some of the supporters.
“The time I’ve had at Liverpool has been truly special. I’ve been incredibly well supported there from Alex Inglethorpe, the Academy Manager, and all the staff.
“It’s a truly special football club and it’s the people that make the football club the place that it is. It would have had to have taken something equally as special, if not more, for me to even think about leaving.
“But from the conversations I’ve had here, I got a really good feeling about the people, where they want the club to go and how they want it to grow.”
Liverpool Academy Director Inglethorpe added: “It’s a bittersweet day in many respects. Obviously losing a person and professional of Neil’s calibre is something that is a disappointment, but at the same time we have great excitement and joy that he has been given this wonderful opportunity.
“We see this as a reflection on the Academy as a whole, that it’s an environment where players and coaches have a pathway to progression and self-improvement.
“Blackpool want Neil because of the work he’s done at Liverpool and it shows to everyone within our system that if you work hard and work smart then rewards are there.
"Neil epitomises the best qualities of a modern coach: leadership skills, intelligence, compassion and a hunger for individual and collective improvement.
"Blackpool are very fortunate to have him and we wish him well. For the U23s we are confident in the remaining coaching talent we have to make sure there is no drop-off in the interim period.
"This season has proved the importance of the role and, therefore, we will take advantage of having amazing people already in post to take stock and assess what to do next.
“Myself, (Sporting Director) Michael Edwards and Jürgen Klopp will work collaboratively on what works best for the future. Pathway is so critical to this club we want to make sure we make the best appointment we can.”
Responsibility for Liverpool’s U23s will be assumed by existing coaching staff before a permanent appointment is made.
Critchley is the latest in a long line of Liverpool Academy coaches to have made the transition to first-team football recently. U18 boss Steven Gerrard was appointed Rangers manager in May 2018 and took foundation phase lead Michael Beale, U18 assistant Tom Culshaw and lead fitness coach Jordan Milsom with him to Ibrox.
Current Liverpool assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders was promoted to the first team after starting off at the club's Academy. Going further back, U18 coach Mike Marsh was promoted to the first team in 2011 and is now assistant at Swansea City.
Former Blackburn and England midfielder David Dunn has been in caretaker charge at Blackpool since Simon Grayson was sacked last month, overseeing a draw, defeat and two wins,
Blackpool owner Simon Sadler said: “I would like to welcome Neil as he joins us on our journey and thank Liverpool for the way they have handled our approach.
“The fact that we’ve been able to attract a coach of Neil’s calibre is testament to how this club is now viewed and is a result of the work that has been done here over recent months.
“Neil is a highly-regarded coach who impressed us with his thorough preparation and analysis of the team. We want this club to represent the town and community by playing entertaining football, working hard and being organised. We firmly believe that Neil can deliver this and lay down the blueprint for our footballing philosophy.”